Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms can vary from one person to the next, and even from one day to another. Although no two people have the exact same MS journey, it can be helpful to understand how others are affected by this condition.
In a recent poll, members of MyMSTeam shared information about the symptoms that have affected them. The results may be surprising.
As of press time, 601 people had responded to the poll. Check out the top responses in the chart above, and the breakdown of the top six results below.
Coming in atop the list was fatigue, affecting about 91 percent of the respondents. Fatigue is not only the most common symptom among MyMSTeam members but for all people with MS. “Fatigue rules my life,” one member wrote. Another said, “If someone has a fatigue recharge outlet, plug me in!”
Learn more about how to fight fatigue with MS.
About 84 percent of MyMSTeam respondents said they were impacted by balance issues. In some cases, balance problems can stem from fatigue or other MS symptoms. About 70 percent of people with MS have trouble with balance at some point. “I started losing my balance and falling,” one MyMSTeam member wrote. Another said, “Get a device like a cane, mobility scooter, or a walker for balance issues — it will change your life.”
Here are some strategies to enhance motor abilities in MS.
About 79 percent of MyMSTeam respondents said that they experience weakness, a symptom that can impact any part of the body. Members of MyMSTeam often say it can lead to other issues, such as trouble moving. “Terrible weakness in my right leg. I feel like I will collapse walking,” one member wrote. Another said, “The weakness is terrible. I wish it was pain — at least I could take a pain pill and work. Weakness is the worst!
Here are some ways to manage weakness that comes with MS.
Approximately 76 percent of MyMSTeam members who responded to the poll said they have trouble walking. This can be due to a variety of causes, including fatigue, weakness, “jelly legs,” pain, numbness, or cognitive impairment, among others. In some cases, walking aids such as a cane, scooter, or walker could be helpful.
“I’m walking with a cane, but still walking,” one MyMSTeam member said. Another wrote, “I have a walker. It's shaped like a ‘U’ on the bottom and heavier on the bottom for stability.”
Find out more about walking difficulties associated with MS and steps you can take to manage them.
Around 76 percent of respondents reported heat sensitivity as an MS symptom. Many people with MS find that their other symptoms are worse when they’re in a hot or humid environment. Some people find that products like cooling vests help. Staying in the air conditioning when temperatures rise can help as well. Consuming cold items like drinks and popsicles and taking cold showers can also be useful in fighting heat-triggered symptom flares.
Learn more about what causes heat sensitivity in MS — and ways to protect yourself.
Nearly 72 percent of the survey respondents said they experience bladder issues. Bladder dysfunction can manifest in a variety of ways among those with MS. For instance, while some people experience incontinence, others can’t sustain a steady stream of urine.
“Does anyone else have issues with bladder/bowel?” one MyMSTeam member asked. “I have a prolapsed/tilted uterus, prolapsed bladder, and cannot make a bowel movement properly.”
Find out about causes and treatments for bladder issues associated with MS.
Check out the chart in this article to see the complete list of poll responses.